FOR THE GOOD TIMES – Reggae Albums of 1974

Whereas the Soul History section of the book recommends 100 albums from each year of the early Seventies, the Reggae History element is limited to just 50 long-playing vinyl records. The reasons for this are twofold: in some years there weren’t as many as 100 even released in the UK but moreso, the quality of a number of reggae albums was questionable. Even as it stands, some of the albums listed may only be one or two-track LPs. Reggae has always been a market dominated by the ‘single’ format – whether on 7-inch, or from 1977 on 12-inch. Reggae’s initial forays into the LP format during the Sixties had tended to be a proliferation of compilation albums and hit collections. This trend began to change in the early Seventies as reggae companies began to experiment with more carefully conceived albums by reggae bands, groups and singers. It also introduced the ‘dub’ album to the world which significantly increased the popularity of the format in reggae circles and beyond. We have already inspected the Top 100 Soul Albums of 1974 – this week we focus on the Top 50 Reggae Albums of 1974. These albums sold almost exclusively in specialist black music shops as many were released on local independent reggae labels. Trojan Records was the major company for reggae at the time (of the 50, over half are on Trojan or associated labels Horse and Attack). These tended to have better national distrubution so made these records more accessible. Though Continue reading

1994 – UK Soul & Dance Number One Albums

The soul albums chart kicked off 1994 with Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle clinging to the No.1 slot for a further two weeks into January – making a total of six weeks at the peak for the canine rapper. The following is a reminder of what came afterwards – with the exclusion of any album re-entering the No.1 slot from the previous year. The albums were mainly R&B and hip-hop but also included the odd house/dance album, a jungle compilation and a couple of UK offerings. As always, non-consecutive weeks are listed with an asterisk. These are the number one soul albums of 1994. Roll ‘em. DIARY OF A MAD BAND | Jodeci | MCA 4 wks Jodeci first came to prominence in 1991 with their debut album Forever My Lady. Comprising two pairs of brothers (known as K-Ci and JoJo/DeVante Swing and Mr. Dalvin) they made a huge impact on the soul scene in the US and UK with New Jack Swing tracks like Gotta Love, My Phone and their take on The Association’s 1966 smash Cherish. But their forté proved to be superslow slow-jams like Stay, the title-track and I’m Still Waiting. This LP continued the format – the first side containing ballads, the other more uptempo swingtings. Five singles were released from the album – slow-jam burners like What About Us, Cry For You, My Heart Belongs To U and the exquisite Feenin’.  Their track included in the movie Who’s The Man was big in the UK NJS clubs Continue reading

1976 – UK Reggae Number One Albums

The first UK Reggae LPs chart appeared in Black Echoes on February 14th 1976. During the year, 114 albums made the charts – which, from the very beginning, included reggae albums imported from Jamaica or the United States. Of those 114 albums, 10 were by DJ artists, 20 were by bands and vocal groups, 27 were by male vocalists – with only 1 by a female vocalist. The rest were dub albums and compilations. More albums reached No.1 by DJ artists than any other – but the biggest album of the year – by a long chalk – was by a group. Big albums of the year that didn’t reach the No.1 slot include Legalize It by Peter Tosh (No.2), Life Of Contradiction by Joe Higgs (No.4), On The Rock by The Cimarons (No.2), Kick Boy Face by Prince Jazzbo (No.4), Chalis Blaze by Jah Woosh (also No.4) Man In The Hills by Burning Spear (No. 3), Columbia Colly by Jah Lion (also No.3), Trenchtown Mix-Up by The Gladiators (No.4), Satta Massagana by The Abbysinians (No.2). Night Food by The Heptones (also No.2) and 2000 Volts Of Holt by John Holt (No.3). Big-selling dub albums included Gun Court Dub, Rass Claat Dub, African Dub Chapter 2, King Tubby Surrounded By The Dreads At The National Arena and Rasta Dub ’76. Apart from the special No.1 sampler listed below, the other big compilation of the year was Strictly Rockers In A Dread Land. Just 13 albums managed to reach the highly Continue reading

1987 – UK Soul & Dance Number One Albums

This is the first look back to an era which saw the influence and development of electronic music within soul and dance. Out went the large orchestrations, the jazzier arrangements and the percussive frills – in came the drum machines, the computerized keyboards and the birth of hip-hop. Yes – it’s the Eighties. The following is a blow-by-blow account of all the Number One soul albums of 1987. Gone were all the vocal groups and bands – in were the soloists, mainly men. As usual, an asterisk indicates non-consecutive weeks at the top, a cross signifies an imported album not at the time released in the UK. It doesn’t include albums re-entering the No.1 position from 1986. UPFRONT 4 | Various artists | Serious 1 wk The ‘Upfront’ series had been launched in 1986 on Serious and showcased in-demand imports, current dance releases and popular mixes. This fourth edition combined the usual mix of house, hip-hop, club classics and UK vibes. Outstanding tracks included a remix of Loose Ends’ Nights Of Pleasure, Ray, Goodman & Brown’s Take It To The Limit,  the huge House Nation by The Housemaster Boyz and an early DJ Eddie F production – Mr. Big Stuff by Heavy D & The Boyz.  The inclusion of Projection’s UK classic Lovestruck  and the Darlene Davis biggie I Found Lovin’ only added to the appeal – a decent compilation for anyone who didn’t have the singles. ROCK THE HOUSE | DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince | Champion Continue reading

1976 – UK Soul & Dance Number One Albums

When Black Echoes was first published on January 30th 1976, it didn’t have an albums sales chart for reggae and soul. The first reggae album chart was published within a couple of weeks of the newspaper’s launch – but the first soul album chart didn’t appear until some three months later. In all, 13 albums topped the album charts – mainly consisting of male artists and groups. No female topped the chart in ’76 and only one compilation made it to the top. Here is a rundown of all of the Number One soul albums of 1976. An asterisk indicates non-consecutive weeks at the top. I WANT YOU | Marvin Gaye | Tamla Motown 1 wk Prior to this long-player, Marvin had not released a solo studio album since 1973’s Let’s Get It On. In the interim, Marvin Gaye Live! had been issued in 1974 but nothing had been heard of him since. Released in the States on Tamla in March 1976, this album was a very welcome return of the great one for MPG fans like myself. The title-track was released as a single and was an instant smash. The only other 45 taken from the album was After The Dance. The LP is basically a collection of Leon Ware songs, mostly written with Diana Ross’ brother T-Boy Ross. Leon also produced and arranged the album. Although not as successful as his previous couple of studio albums, it was still a phenomenal seller. Consisting of mainly mid-tempo grooves, Marvin Continue reading

1990 – UK Soul & Dance Number One Albums

A total of 27 albums topped the album charts in 1990. It was a year that saw traditional soul artists such as Anita Baker, Freddie Jackson and Johnny Gill rub shoulders with rap acts like LL Cool J, Boogie Down Productions, Master Ace and Public Enemy. UK soul also predominated with Soul II Soul, Loose Ends, Caron Wheeler and Omar all achieving No.1 status on the chart. In chronological order, here is a rundown of the Number One Soul & Dance Albums of 1990. An asterisk indicates non-consecutive weeks at the pinnacle whilst a cross refers to the album being an imported issue. BEYOND A DREAM | By All Means | Island 1 wk This was the second of three albums by this Californian soul trio. Their update of Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On was the single taken from the LP. I’d Rather Be Lonely has since become something of a connoisseurs cut. THAT’S HOW I’M LIVING | Tony Scott | Next Plateau+ 2 wks* The title track was a massive hip-house hit in 1989, released by Champion in the UK. Its success was also attributable to the flipside The Chief. His real name was Peter van der Bosch and he was one of the few successful Dutch rap artists. His Love Let Love from later in the year is considered to be a New Jack Swing classic. DONE BY THE FORCES OF NATURE | Jungle Brothers | Warner Bros. 1 wk The group’s previous set Straight Out The Jungle Continue reading

POWER OF SOUL – Soul Albums of 1974

After last week’s look at some soul hits from 1962, it’s time to focus on some of the key soul albums from 1974. This extract forms a part of the History section of Celebrate Good Times. Again, 100 have been selected – with a Top 25 chosen for special attention and merit. In the UK during the mid 70s, the demand for soul albums was increasing. Of course, in the US there were many independently released records which never gained a UK issue – and were not even imported at the time. However, the records listed below are selected from the few hundred soul albums that were released by the major record companies of the day. Specialist publications such as Blues And Soul and Black Music kept soul fans reliably informed of what was newly available. Because the singles market was so strong, an album containing a few singles was financially more attractive than forking out money for a clutch of 45s. At this time, the popular labels like Tamla Motown, Atlantic and Stax were still going strong. Of course, as with all such lists, the selections provide a very personal handpicked overview of the year – but they do reflect what I was listening to and buying at the time, in addition to those other albums I picked up later along the way on many, many cratedigging hunts. Without a doubt, the Top 5 are the albums I was mad about at the time and still am now. George Continue reading